- Says N40bn budgeted in 2016 to build new houses
Fashola outlines plans to deliver new homes to Nigerians
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday said Nigeria risked a huge housing crisis in the next four years, which is by the year 2020, if she does not build at least one million units of houses for her citizens every year.
Buhari said this when he declared open the 35th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and international symposium of Shelter Afrique in Abuja, adding that unless the country consciously builds this number of houses annually, hopes of her cutting a nationally acclaimed housing deficit of 17 million would also be an illusion.
His warning coincided with disclosure by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the event that a new plan to improve access to new homes by Nigerians has been drawn up by his ministry.
The president who spoke through his minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),Mr. Mohammed Bello, stated that his government has begun to design policies that would help him and private operators build more houses for Nigerians.
He explained that parts of such policies are contained in a new national housing development programme which when implemented guarantee low and middle income earning Nigerians access to houses through mortgages and other off-take arrangements.
The president also disclosed that as part of ways to kick-start government’s plan to strategically intervene in the country’s housing sector, N40 billion was earmarked in the 2016 budget for the housing sector.
“Ours is an administration driven by robust convictions and relentless zeal to deploy available resources into key sectors of the economy to place Nigeria back on the path of continuous growth and development.
“We are therefore very much convinced of the catalytic development potentials of the housing sector and have accordingly earmarked about N40 billion in the 2016 capital budget to implement a comprehensive programmed for housing development,” said Buhari said.
He added: “Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people and annual population growth rate of 3.5 per cent requires a minimum of additional one million housing units per annum to reduce the much acclaimed national deficit of about 17 million housing units in order to avert a housing crisis by the year 2020.”
Similarly, Fashola in his remarks, outlined what he described as the plan which he would use to deliver sustainable homes to Nigerians.
He said his ministry had embarked on proper planning to establish the real housing demands of majority of Nigerians, adding that such first steps were key to completing housing projects; controlling costs and reducing requests variations as the case may be.
He said while there was an existing housing plan which he met on ground, its contents were however not really proactive but expressive.
“We must never get tire to explain the necessity and importance of proper planning. It is the key to successful execution, it is the key to project completion, it is the key to cost control and reduction in variation requests and financial calculations.
“I acknowledge that there is, for example, a national housing policy of 2012. Some have chosen to call it a plan. To the extent that it is a broad statement of intent about providing housing, it is a policy statement,” Fashola said.
With regards to an active housing plan, the minister explained what his ministry was working on, saying it was, “a clear understanding of who we want to provide housing for.”
He said: “I recognise that there are people who want land to build for themselves, there are also people who want town houses and duplexes, whether detached or semi-detached.
“The people who we must focus on are those in the majority and those who are most vulnerable; the people who are in the bracket of those who graduated from universities about five years ago and more.
“People who are in the income bracket of grade level 9 to 15 in the public service and their counterparts, taxi drivers, market men and women, farmers, artisans who earn the same range of income.”
Fashola said in order to capture the target population, the ministry needed to conduct a survey to determine what they expect and what they could pay as well as evolve agreeable housing types, between two to four designs that have a broad, national cultural acceptance.
He also said the plan requires standardisation of various accessories used in housing project so that small and medium enterprises in the country would be able to, “respond to supply all the building materials, create diversification and jobs and ensure that projects are completed with a steady supply of materials.”
Other requirements in the plan, Fashola said, included ensuring that the designs reflect behavioral patterns of Nigerians, such as adequate storage, and other lifestyle needs amongs others.
According to him, the plans also include ensuring that the process of issuing legal titles to builders and owners is in place immediately as well as systemic focus on post-construction maintenance to ensure that the houses remain in good condition after they have been sold to the owners.
He equally disclosed that 12 state governments have responded to the request for land to build houses, and that the secured lands would be surveyed by the ministry preparatory to commencing their development.
“I know that there is a high expectancy out there. But everything tells me that as desirous as speed is, for us to respond to people’s expectations, we must be careful not to build roads that go nowhere; instead, we must be meticulous, focused and dedicated to build a road to prosperity,” he said.